SU-EATABLE LIFE and a sustainable diet: from theory to practice

SU-EATABLE LIFE and a sustainable diet: from theory to practice

January 10, 2020

SU-EATABLE LIFE and a sustainable diet: from theory to practice

After an initial phase dedicated to scientific research and to the design of experiments, the project enters its operational phase in 2020, in company and university canteens in Italy and the United Kingdom.

The project is ready to go into action through actual experimentation” said Riccardo Valentini, Professor of Ecology at Tuscia University and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), describing the ultimate aim of the SU-EATABLE LIFE Project. “This project aims to demonstrate that a sustainable diet provides benefits not only for people's health, but also for the environment, with actual savings in terms of CO2 equivalent emissions and water”. To put it into figures, by involving people in adopting a sustainable diet, we estimate that around 5,300 tons of CO2 equivalent and around 2 million cubic meters of water can be saved over the three years of the project. Barilla Foundation is one of the 4 partners of the European project, which was the subject of one of the eight workshops organized during the tenth edition of the International Forum on Food and Nutrition organized in Milan. The event was also attended by representatives of the other three major partners: greenApes, which provides the digital platform used to involve the canteen users, Wageninen University, which processes the data collected, and Sustainable Restaurant Association, which is supporting the development of the initiative in the United Kingdom.

Starting with canteens

As the presentation of the initiative states, “the project intends to involve different stakeholders: not only citizens, but also schools, universities, municipalities, companies and NGOs.” Universities and companies will be the starting point for the experimental phase of SU-EATABLE LIFE in 2020. A number of different universities and companies have signed up, including Artizian Catering, Footitude, University of Worcester, City University (London), University of Parma and ER.GO (Azienda Regionale Emilia-Romagna per il Diritto agli Studi Superiori) in Italy, with the aim of offering a sustainable diet in their canteens. “Interventions aimed at improving choices in terms of health and sustainability in the catering sector are particularly relevant given their high number of daily users and the large amount of food served every day,” said Francesca Scazzina, Associate Professor of Human Nutrition, Department of Food and Drug Sciences, University of Parma.


The companies and institutions taking part in the project will be able to take advantage of this European experience, becoming an active part of an innovative European strategy that intends to adopt a sustainable diet to combat climate change and that will benefit from the national and international reporting of the project.  

The pillars of the operational phase

Using the dedicated app created by the partner greenApes, 5,000 European citizens will join in the project which will focus on three main areas in its experimental phase. The first is a careful communication strategy in the canteens, which will promote the sustainable and healthy diet through targeted activities, dissemination of data and results and information to increase knowledge of the fundamental themes of the project, all by means of digital or direct communication in the canteens, but also via workshops and scientific publications. The second area of intervention aims instead to improve the offer of a sustainable diet in canteens by offering a daily My plate 4 the future (MP4F), a meal described as the optimum choice, both nutritionally and environmentally. Third, but not least, the promotion of the greenApes platform, in order to increasingly involve users and convince them to adopt a sustainable diet, even through contests and prizes. “The greenApes app will add some fun”, adds Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability at the University of Worcester.

The rules are set

The healthy and sustainable diet proposed by SU-EATABLE LIFE experts mainly revolves around plant-based foods, with fruit and vegetables at each meal, combined with cereals, whole grain if possible, and enriched with seeds and dried fruit. Most of the protein comes from pulses, fish, white meat and eggs, while red meat and dairy products play a secondary role. 

Attention must also be paid to the seasonality of the products and to water, which must be consumed in abundance in daily nutrition but not wasted, as it is a precious asset for the planet. The project also shines the spotlight on the importance of not wasting food and ensures constant awareness of the three Rs of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle disposable materials and packaging. These general principles have been summarized in eight useful tips to improve health and reduce people's environmental footprint through “correct” food consumption, listed on the project website. 

Learn more about similar topics:

Find out more about Food and sustainability